Common wisdom, usually isn't. But there's an awful lot of talk going around that short stories are the hardest to sell. Only that doesn't make sense. What could be better suited to digital reading? Lots of choices, no long-term commitment. And of course, some of the world's best writers are known for their short stories. And yet, the prejudice in favor of novels continues. So we wanted to know why Frank Tavares chose short stories. (Yes, it's true, he is working on a novel and a first chapter is included in The Man Who Built Boxes.)
Here's what he had to say:
Writing has been a part of my entire professional life. For most of those years the majority of my writing was very specific and not fiction. It was client-based. Advertising. Marketing. Proposals. Academic essays. All things with a very specific goal and audience, and often with a measurable outcome attached.
I did start writing fiction very early. I have fragments of creative prose and poetry in my personal archives going back into my high school years, and earlier. But I didn't pursue an actual "fiction" project until the 90s. I got tired of hearing myself complain about "wanting to be a writer" and challenged myself to just do it. So I started my first novel manuscript. While I was completing those last chapters, I began work on a second novel. As I finished that one, I started a third, then a fourth. None of these were published, but I continued sharpening my skills. Along the line, I began writing short stories to fill in the gaps. Not just the gaps between the longer form projects, but as an escape route from those projects when I felt stuck, or overwhelmed. I've always made sure I've had multiple writing projects going so I could switch back and forth among them.
When I started to publish the shorts, it gave me the affirmation and motivation to persevere. As I continue with my fiction writing, I realize that I'm in a very different place from where I was when I first had the courage to jump off that cliff.
One of my mentors, the late Leo Connellan, former Connecticut State Poet Laureate taught me two very important things. First, believe in my writing. The second thing was, "Writers, Frank. Writers write." I don't manage to write every day, but often when I'm reluctant to drag myself out of bed early in the morning, I repeat it quietly, so as not to disturb my wife.
For me, I've learned over the years, that there's no magic, no muse, only occasional inspiration. The key is to just get your sorry butt out of the sack and do it. Very powerful.
Frank Tavares's book is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.
Photo: © Frederick Rosenberg/Portofino Sept 13
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